23 One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat. 24 But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?”
25 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 26 He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions.”
27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” ~ Mark 2:23-28
Today, we conclude our study of Mark 2. As we close out this chapter, we notice that it was the Sabbath, and, the Lord Jesus and His disciples were traveling on foot to another town. As with all of the gospel writers, Mark presents to us not only the events of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ but the reality of His identity. This is not merely a story of just any man, this is the story of the God-man who came to earth to introduce man to the truth.
In v.23-24 of today's passage we read, "One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat. 24 But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?"
On this day, after the disciples plucked grain in a field, the Pharisees accused them of breaking the Law. For many first-century Jews, the Sabbath was not simply a day of rest, it was connected with their national identity & their hopes. For the Pharisees, keeping the Sabbath was a sign of loyalty to God and to country, and picking grain constituted a violation of the Sabbath law.
For the Pharisees, the disciples had technically broken God's definition of the Sabbath. In plucking the grain with their hands, they were reaping; in rubbing the grain with their hands, they were threshing; in blowing the chaff away, they were winnowing. And all of those three things together constituted; they were preparing a meal, because, then they ate it afterwards. This is how insane it had become to keep the Sabbath in that day. The religious leaders had made it about something that God did not.
In v.25-26 of today's passage we read, "25 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 26 He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions."
Nine times in the Gospels it is recorded that Jesus said to his accusers, "Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures?" The fact that it was mentioned that many times shows how important the Lord Jesus thought it was for these religious leaders to know what the Bible actually says.
Then, the Lord Jesus answered His accusers by reminding them of the story of David and his men eating bread in the temple which is recorded in 1 Samuel 21:1-6. David and his men were fleeing for their lives and they were very hungry. In desperation, they entered the tabernacle, took the showbread, which God Himself said was designated for the priests only. These twelve loaves of bread, served as a symbol for Israel, prepared fresh each week, were placed on the table in the tabernacle. After a week, only the priests, could eat it. But David, because of the hunger of his men, dared to go in and take those loaves of bread and pass them out among them.
This bread, as are many things in the Old Testament, was a picture of the Lord Jesus. In John 6:35, the Lord Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." And, God never reprimanded David for eating the sacred bread.
In Mark 2:27-28 of today's passage we read, "27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!"
The Sabbath was God’s gift to mankind. But, the Pharisees had hijacked it by making it a badge of national loyalty. In their view, man should serve the Sabbath. The Pharisees had dehumanized the Sabbath. However, we learn from the Lord Jesus, the Sabbath is a gift from God to mankind. We do well to observe the Sabbath, because it serves to give us a day to recuperate from our long week of work.
The Sabbath is good for the soul, and, we must remember that it is possible to honor the letter of the Law while violating the spirit of it. If we start with the letter of the Law and not the spirit, we can always find a loophole in the letter that enables us to violate the spirit. It is possible to hijack biblical positions and practices by making them badges of loyalty, just as the Pharisees had done.
In John 5:39-40 the Lord Jesus said, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life."
The Pharisees were so focused on observing the Sabbath, they didn’t recognize the Lord of the Sabbath when He showed up. Pride always crouches at the door of our hearts, ready to corrupt even the purest of intentions. And, when we open the door to pride to enter, we open it for God's grace to exit.